This is Allens

Jillian Button

Allens Head of Climate Change Jillian Button sees 2022 as the year that set us up to accelerate the pace of tackling climate change.

The change in government this year signalled a real shift from soft law to hard law on climate issues. Changes to Australia's Safeguard Mechanism taking effect in July 2023 will start to ratchet down emissions in the industrial sector, and the government has also foreshadowed mandatory climate disclosure for large companies and financial institutions. 

Given how real the impacts of climate change are becoming, it's really given me a boost to focus on front-end advisory work to help clients with their net zero transition and adaptation planning. I've also recently joined the board of WWF Australia and it's been really exciting to see the convergence of the day-to-day work that we do in the commercial environment and the work that WWF is doing. For example, investing in nature restoration solutions.

Working in ESG is challenging; you're never going to find the answer in one place. You have to be able to synthesize information from very dispersed sources and come up with simple, forward-looking, strategic advice. ESG plays out very differently across sectors and industries and collaboration is crucial. To deliver for clients we draw on people with expertise in the relevant industry, so that we can translate core principles effectively.

Over my career, the world has become noisier. You can access more commentary and more data on issues than ever before and there is a temptation to capture all of that noise on a page, but a good lawyer can tune into the frequency that matters and provide concise, clear advice that helps clients cut through it all.

This year Allens became the first Australian law firm with an SBTi approved science-based target. We committed to reducing our emissions by 50% by 2030 and that's important on a few fronts. It is a statement on, and recognition of, the importance of working towards net zero by 2050. We also advise a lot of clients in this space, so for me it's been helpful to go through the process and see the connection between policy commitment and implementation and how that flows through the organisation.

I think 2023 feels like the year companies will really accelerate implementation and start to show progress against the targets they've set. We're expecting the development of climate disclosure standards to be progressed and for that to be aligned with the ISSB Climate Disclosure Standard - that will be a big focus next year.

I'd also hope to see greater connection between the transition to net zero and the cultural authority, capabilities and aspirations of First Nations people. I'm hopeful that government and organisations will continue getting better at articulating that connection and embedding it in transition strategies.